The Congressional Progressive Caucus Back to Work Budget, as expected, did not prevail on the floor of the House of Representatives today. It went down to defeat, 84-327. In fact, it did not even win support from a majority of Democrats.
But it did win a dramatic outpouring of support from ordinary Americans, which was demonstrated when one of the sponsors of the Back to Work Budget, Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., held a stack of papers representing the more than 102,000 people who signed our petition calling for a “yes” vote for the budget and a “no” vote on the Republican budget of Rep. Paul Ryan, D-Wis.
“The Back-to-Work budget is common sense, and it reflects the values of the American people. It recognizes the realities of our economic and social times. This budget is about investment, and the greatest resource we have in this country is the American people, we need to invest in them,” Grijalva said during House floor debate.
While the House Republicans repeated their worn mantra that “we have a spending problem” that required cutting services vital to struggling families and making people less financially secure, and as at least one Republican equated taxation with “theft,” Progressive Caucus members made persuasive arguments for the need to invest in American jobs and asked those who are the most well off to do the most to help rebuild the American economy.
Co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., pointed out that House Speaker John Boehner had agreed that the debt crisis is not immediate. “He’s right. It’s not. But let me tell you what is immediate. The jobs crisis.”
“The Republican budget makes the wrong choices for our country. I respect the fact that they have honestly projected a vision, but it’s an austere vision for the american people. It is no surprise that this message lost the election that we just had. It was put in front of people they said we will have none of it. … As me and the speaker agree, it’s not the moment where we need to clamp down on debt, it’s the moment we need to put Americans back to work.”
Though this push has ended, the fight is not over. There will be other battles ahead in the coming weeks in which Congress will be forced to choose priorities, and the Back to Work Budget has made one thing clear: There is a right road to economic recovery and eventual deficit reduction, and progressives have it. Millions of Americans agree, and their representatives have been put on notice.
Richard Long has contributed to this post.